Last weekend we attended a party at a house on a lake. In the lake, there was an enormous water trampoline for the kids to play on. There was also an inflatable obstacle course in the yard.
Water is dangerous. Trampolines are dangerous. Inflatable obstacle courses are dangerous. Craig and I agreed we would share the responsibility of watching the kids. Neither one of us wanted to be the designated babysitter all night long.
I was happy to take first shift. Actually, I prefer first shift. I like to get the lay of the land, figure things out, determine any dynamics that could be negative triggers for the disruption of fun. Like when I noticed a 6th grader tackling a 2nd grader on the water trampoline – I made him stop.
“Luke, are you having fun or are you upset?” I asked the 2nd grader, because I really couldn’t tell.
Immediately he started crying. “NO!! I don’t want to be thrown in and he won’t leave me alone!”
“HEY!” I addressed the 6th grader. “Keep your hands off the little kids. They’re too little to play that rough.”
“I was just having fun,” the cocky 6th grader sneered at me.
“Well, he wasn’t – so cut it out!” I came back strong as I gestured to Luke.
The 6th grader rolled his eyes at me, and muttered under his breath to his friends. I glared at him – daring him to argue. He got the silent message. The big kids did not pick on the little kids after that. They knew I was watching.
There were at least fifty kids ranging in ages from 3-13 jumping, running, swimming, and splashing at full speed. In comparison to the amount of kids, there was very little adult supervision. I parked myself at a table between the water and the inflatable course so I could monitor both.
Our kids are 8, 8 and 10. They can swim, but they don’t yet understand their limitations. The water trampoline was in shallow water. I was worried they’d be tempted to dive. Or bump their heads while jumping before falling into the water. Or get stuck under the flotation device.
Yes – I am paranoid about water, specifically lakes, and the possibility of drowning. But as I always tell Craig when he tells me to relax, I prefer my children alive instead of dead.
The inflatable obstacle courses are great fun. But kids get hyper and things get out of control. Adult supervision helps to keep the crazy at a more reasonable level.
An hour into the party, the activity of the kids started to flow in a more manageable rhythm. Their initial euphoria leveled to calm chaos. I was ready for a break.
I looked for Craig. I found him. He was the bar-tender. The life of the party. The center of attention. Instantly, I knew it was going to be a long night of babysitting the kids for me. I was correct.
Was I annoyed? Yes. Was it worth it to me to pull him out of his glory? No.
While I did wish that I didn’t have to remind Craig to keep up his end of the deal when it came to sharing the load with the kids, I also recognized my own limitations. There is no way I could have let loose that night, even if he had afforded me a break. Our kids were swimming in a lake. They were bouncing like maniacs on an inflatable obstacle course. They were playing basketball on the entirely opposite side of the house. Even if Craig was watching them, I would not have been able to stop counting to 3 – making sure they were all safe and breathing.
So, I took a deep breath and let him have his fun. Then I continued to watch the kids as they had a ball.
As for me? I counted heads all night long. And every time I got to 3? I smiled at my little party animals.